Over more than three decades, The Anthony Nolan Trust (ANT) has provided an unrelated donor (UD) for over 4000 children and adults lacking a suitable family member donor, and has remained at the forefront of developments in haematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and bone marrow register management. These three decades have seen major changes in clinical practice of UD-HSCT, including new indications, increased use of alternative haematopoietic cell sources, significant improvement of the outcome as a result of better support care, less-toxic conditioning regimens, and better donor selection, and expansion to older patients with higher comorbidities. In order to foster our goal of improving UD-HSCT availability and outcome in a progressively more complex clinical scenario, a new initiative from ANT was launched in 2005 to convene an experts workshop to address the topical issues in this field. Four consecutive panels addressed factors influencing donor selection and transplant outcome, the use of cord blood, regulatory and accreditation issues, and future developments in this field. This report summarizes the discussions held in this workshop, which will likely develop into a periodic event where transplant clinicians, scientists and registry members will meet to share their experience and vision in the field of UD-HSCT.